Since the inception of multi-party democracy in Malawi, any act of social responsibility by the powers that be is usually tied to politics; with some heinous intention behind the gesture.
Such perceptions have over the years led to be widely accepted by society as difficult for any politician to be truly God-fearing. Perhaps this is true owing to how politics have shade its colours over the years.
But for a change; at least in recent times, an Adventist Cabinet Minister took a different path when he recently skipped his busy schedule at the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to cheer the sick at Salima District Hospital, in Malawi’s Central Region.
While it is common knowledge that most public figures tend to engage themselves with charity works over various festive seasons, the minister got one better: he took his sons, Edward and Luntha, along. And for a reason, too. “Basically, I did it for them. I didn’t come as a politician nor am I trying to teach them the ropes in politics.
According to the Minister, who is also a professed Christian, children nurtured in kindness learn the value of understanding. “Children taught to be self-sufficient, to respect others, to value education and to build life up rather than to tear it down will become adults capable of leading us to a brighter future. For (as Karl Menninger noted) what's done to children, they will do to society.”
And true to his word, the two sons actively participated in cheering the patients and parting the gifts to them in the process. But it was also clear that the gesture left them emotional as they were confronted with some realities of life in many a patient. From the look of things, Tembenu’s reasoning indeed took an effect on the children as the ‘reality on the ground’ confronted what their father called privileged life. Luntha, who is the younger of the two, almost turned emotional in the whole process.
In an interview with cmc.adventist.org later on, the Minister said: “I wanted to show them that while they may be living in the comforts of our homes; there are people out there who are in need and can do with their little help. What I yearn most in the youth of today is to see them grow into dependable men; with an upright character and that begins with being a practicing believer. At the rate we are going, we have all the reasons as parents to be worried of the next generation.
“We try so hard to instruct our children in all the right things―teaching good from bad, explaining choices and consequences―when in reality most lessons are learned through observation and experience. Perhaps we'd be better off training our youth to be highly observant. I just tried it. I hope it works out.” He said.
In his subsequent speeches when addressing the patients in the wards he visited, Tembenu however regretted the tendency to visit the sick occasionally; saying the Scriptures in the Bible will one day come to haunt the public and believers in particular, should the people ignore their teachings. And in his remarks, Salima District Health Officer Dr Bongani Chikwapulo thanked the minister for the gesture, saying it will go a long way to lifting the spirits of the patients at the hospital.
“I should say it is timely. From a professional point of view, I will tell you that this catalyzes the process of healing. All we do is treat the ailments but it takes hope to complete the cycle. That explains why we always encourage the public to come and cheer the patients up; even if they bring nothing with them.” Chikwapulo said.
The DHO added that the hospital continues to face various challenges including shortage of ambulances and medical staff to serve the ever-increasing population under its catchment area.
Salima District Hospital was opened in 1979, alongside its Karonga counterpart, among others to help ease the pressure at regional referral centres of Kamuzu and Mzuzu Central Hospitals, respectively.